Posted on May 3rd, 2011 No comments
As I sit here in my office, the new Executive Connector for SVP Calgary, I try to think of something profound to say. It has not happened. Instead I will share my thoughts on coming into the world of venture philanthropy. I know that SVP officially uses venture capital philosophy to improve the capacity of promising non-profits. I think that we make it far too complicated. We are simply a group of passionate people who want to make a difference. Unlike many others, we decide not just to volunteer but to help the organizations making a change to do so more efficiently and more effectively. We increase their capacity to fulfill their mission. We work alongside these organizations to offer our support, our expertise and our connections. Yes, we also offer them our money. We pool our resources so that we can make a bigger impact than any one of us could make alone.
I was in Phoenix and toured a local high school that was a Social Venture Partner project. It was a classic low income school that you would find in a movie. The majority of students lived below the poverty line and many spoke English as a second language. There was an overwhelmingly negative feel to the school. The school division brought in a radical new principal, Dr. G who immediately started making changes. He talked about how it was much easier to change the climate in the school than the culture. He believes that climate can be changed fairly quickly but culture takes more time. He made clubs mandatory, attendance at extracurricular events a part of overall marks.
The unique relationship that SVP had with this school included financial support but even more importantly, connections. Dr. G knew that if he contacted his SVP lead partner, she would be able to find a person to make things happen: from a funeral home when two students died to an expert on clothing and dress for students doing presentations. SVP became his “go to” partner. Are they making a difference? Yes!
Do you want to make this kind of difference in Calgary? I know that I do!